Fierce. Why, I have no earthly idea but that's entirely irrelevant at this point so onward with the review. The Blacksmith's Son is the first of five books in Michael G. Manning's Mageborn series. As a result, this book is largely an introduction to the characters and universe of the story which Manning is creating, as well as setting up some elements of a larger plot which I'm sure will be more fully developed in later books. I will say that this particular book just kind of...ends, which is a little disappointing.
This book focuses on the character of Mordecai Elridge, the titular blacksmith's son. Like several fantasy heroes I'm sure my readers can think of themselves, Mordecai discovers he's secretly nobility and a wizard. What I just said would count as a spoiler, except for two very important facts. First of all the prologue basically gives us Mordecai's tragic backstory ahead of time so we know exactly who Mordecai is, which makes his character's discovery of his true heritage not terribly surprising for the reader in the latter half of the book. The other fact is that a lot of the book is written from Mordecai's perspective, specifically he's writing from an older perspective recollecting on his youthful adventures so I at least got an inkling he was going to find out he was special fairly early on. As a result, a lot of the conflict doesn't really come from Mordecai's discovering of his abilities and heritage so much as his conflict with other characters. Which is a fine approach to a book, but it felt like specifically the discovery of his true family took place too far back in the book considering we the readers knew all along.
However, that being said, Mordecai's struggles to learn about magic and its capabilities, especially with a lack of anyone to teach him anything about magic, provides an interesting conflict in and of itself, coupled with most people's association of magic with evil powers which makes it all the more important for him to keep it a secret. In addition, there is conflict with other characters who are in league with evil powers and Mordecai's efforts to both stop them and protect his family and friends, which aren't always successful. The disappointing thing is that in the first book all the plot threads seemed to be tied up very neatly. There are some vague and nebulous threats which I'm sure come into play in the later books, but there isn't a threat in the first book left to bridge to the second book because they're all handled within this book. It left me a little confused about the overall direction of this series because it seemed like Manning didn't have a clear direction as to where he wanted to go. There are some general ideas and potentialities, but nothing terribly concrete.
And I will throw in, because I feel obligated to whenever I run into it, that there is a case of attempted rape in this book. I personally was left with the feeling that it was rape being utilized to up the drama and make a particular character seem even worse, but I didn't really need a lot of convincing that this guy was bad in the first place. So it just feels wrong to me, but that's ultimately a matter of personal opinion more than anything else.
To this book's credit, though, the writing is fairly enjoyable and I found myself chuckling along at several points throughout the book so it has that going for it. Plus all the main characters are teenagers who often act in irrational and stupid ways, which I find very believable for teenage characters. Especially considering all the hormones they've got surging around inside their bodies.
Overall this book isn't bad. It could be a lot worse than it is. But on the flip side I'm not jumping up and down and telling people they should go out and read it either. For me it was okay at best, but it's not something I'd foist on other people.